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Karl lived in Manchester for most of his life. His descriptions of his childhood suggest that his was an unconventional upbringing. Growing up on a council estate, he was educated at Ashton-on-Mersey School, but was regularly absent due to family holidays. These were arranged by his parents during term-time (when it was cheaper to do so). He claims that during his school years, he was given two attendance awards in an attempt to persuade him to remain in school. This strategy failed, and Karl continued his absenteeism. He now contends that he was never encouraged by his teachers, and that they said he would "never be a high flyer." Moreover, he disliked
school because all of his teachers were 'profiting' from his education, and complains that in class he was regularly given menial and pointless tasks, such as attaching as many stickers to Thomson brochures as possible in 30 minutes.
He had a number of near-death experiences as a child. These include: nearly choking to death on a Freeze-pop, almost plummeting to his death when climbing out of an upstairs window to do his paper round (it was blizzard conditions and Karl's mother had locked the door to stop him doing his round in such dangerous conditions), the time he tried to 'kick his height' and the 'bad cream incident', when Karl had eaten too many cream doughnuts which were discarded at the back of a local baker's shop.
Karl left school without collecting his exam results - live on air (on Xfm) Ricky Gervais revealed that he had attained a single "E" GCSE grade in History. This came as something of a surprise to Karl as he had no recollection of actually taking the exam. The excitement of this news was tempered somewhat by the discovery that he had not received grades for any of the GCSEs he actually does remember sitting as unfortunately he had registered for the exams.
Pilkington went through a number of jobs, his favourite being his paper round. Karl claims to this day that his paper round is his best ever job, as he was his own boss. When Ricky pointed out that the newsagent was his boss, Karl replied with "nah".Karl's school and its catchment area were near a power plant. This could explain his inherent fascination with 'freaks' ("I just like odd stuff"), as the school contained a couple of (unrelated) pupils who had "big heads and webbed hands" (but they weren't friends, as Karl explains that would've been "too obvious"), together with a boy with a 'pigeon's chest'.
Karl's family, it would seem, are almost as strange as he is. He recalls the story of his father and uncle impersonating policemen in order to sort out a woman who mistreats her husband by carrying him around in the basket of her tricycle, and somewhat gives the game away on his dad who apparently
regularly steals groceries from a phonebox in the small village where he lives. Karl also claims that when one of his budgies died, his mother took one of its feathers and stuck it to a rock in order to make some company for the surviving bird. Her strange actions towards pets run deeper, as Karl tells the tale of the time their cat was ill and kept being sick, so his mother shaved it, thus creating the world's first dry-wipe feline.
Karl's most infamous family member, however, has to be his Auntie Nora. On one occaission, when she was "drugged up" ("her bedside cabinet's like Boots") she phoned Karl's mother complaining that she had been breaking wind for five minutes. Karl also remarks that her "female parts" resemble "a split tennis ball" after inadvertently glancing up her skirt as she sat
down. Her other antics include wanting an astro-turf lawn ("she likes the green look, but doesn't want the headaches that come with it"), putting a valance on everything - including over the front of her VCR player - and the fact that "all her food is mashed up... she's got teeth, but she don't need 'em".
19th Sep 2006, 09:56